The Ministry of Health said it will not compromise with any of its officials who violate the guidelines of Article 5.3 of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control or any of the related policies.
Deputy Director-General of Health Datuk Dr Norhayati Rusli in a statement said the Ministry of Health takes seriously the allegations that two of its senior officials are said to have met representatives from the tobacco industry, which allegedly violated the guideline. She said the results of the Ministry of Health’s initial investigation found that two ministry officials had been visited by two individuals who introduced themselves as the owners of a Putrajaya bicycle company and a printing company.
According to her, the purpose of the meeting was to discuss a proposal to hold a weight reduction intervention program, but no agreement was made during the discussion. “The Ministry of Health takes this viral allegation seriously because it portrays a bad image especially for the Ministry of Health and in general for the government,” she said. At the same time, Dr Norhayati said that as civil servants, especially KKM staff, it is their responsibility to ensure that any meeting with any private company or non-governmental organization is free from any conflict that may lead to self-interest.
Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC stipulates that Malaysia, as a member state, must implement a public health policy regarding tobacco control and protect it from commercial interests and the interests of the tobacco industry based on national laws. The article establishes implementation guidelines with control measures that must be established such as limiting any interaction with the tobacco industry, ensuring the transparency of the interaction that occurs, rejecting partnerships and agreements with the tobacco industry and avoiding conflicts of interest for government officials and employees.
“In addition, related policies that are also referred to are Conflict of Interest Management Policy, Anti-Corruption Policy, Gift Management Policy, External Influence Management Policy and Letter of Support; and Code of Ethics and Conduct Policy,” he said. Recently, the media reported that the Malaysian Tobacco Control Council (MCTC) expressed concern regarding a meeting between two senior officials of the Ministry of Health and a representative of the tobacco industry, and claimed that the meeting violated the WHO FCTC.